Past pieces in this column have covered the “harem” genre of anime, the most basic form of which sees one character being surrounded by lots of other characters of the opposite gender, most normally a man surrounded by many women. As stated, these can often be bawdy and sometimes downright pornographic. This series however is not really bawdy. Instead it is kinky.
MM! began as a series of light novels by Akinari Matsuno in 2007, manga versions of which were made the following year. This anime, the only version of the series in English, was made in 2010 and lasted 12 episodes. There is quite a bit of kinky activity in this series. It contains sadomasochism, cross-dressing, implied incest and someone who you could argue is a paedophile. Not only that, but the series is set in a school.
Oddly though when it comes to nudity there are certain things off limits. A girl might topless, but you will never see a pair of nipples, which is something I fail to understand. Why are nipples rude, given that most of us have seen them, and will have suckled on them as babies? Even male characters like those in Free! Iwatobi Swim Club (No. 17) have their nipples removed for seemingly no reason.
The hero of MM! is Taro Sado, a teenage schoolboy who describes himself as a “super masochist”. Whenever a girl physically or verbally abuses him, he cannot control his urges and goes into a state of perverted ecstasy. However, he hates his masochism, so he goes to a club in his school called the “Second Voluntary Club”, which devotes itself to solving any problem. The head of the club is Mio Isurugi, a girl with a superiority complex and proclaims herself to be a god. Mio has an odd way of trying to cure Taro’s masochism: inflicting Taro with as much pain as she can, in order to make Taro stop associating pain with pleasure and instead to use it as a survival mechanism. What actually happens is that Taro just gets more aroused.
The club also has other members. One of these is Arashiko Yuno, who suffers from androphobia, the fear of men. Whenever a man touches her she lashes out violently, resulting in Taro getting even more painful pleasure. However, the two do slowly manage to become closer romantically.
As the series progresses, we discover that just about everyone Taro comes into contact with has some sort of odd sexual habit. He is shocked to discover the first girl that he loves is in fact his best friend Tatsukichi Hayama cross-dressing; Michiru Onigawara the school nurse is constantly trying to take photos of people in costume; Yuno’s best friend Yumi is a skilled masseur with lesbian tendencies; Noa Hiiragi, a lonely school genius with an IQ of over 200 looks like a preadolescent and her assistant Himura is into “lolicon” (sexual attraction to prepubescent girls); Taro’s boss at the shop he works at loves anime and “2D Girls”; and even Taro’s own sister and mother’s extreme love of him borders on the incestuous.
Reading this you may be understandably worried about the content. But when watching it you can see that there are some hidden depths amongst all the lewdness. For example, Taro may be a masochist, but he is on the whole a kind, helpful guy. The series also touches on some serious subjects. For example, the reason for Yuno’s fear of men is because she was once the victim of an attempted sexual assault. When her attacker re-appears on the scene Taro, with help from Mio, beats him up in revenge.
Another reason for why there is more to MM! than just being sex comedy is that the humour plays on more than one “level”, to use the rather annoying term. First, there is the cartoonish slapstick. Much of the way Taro’s pain is delivered occurs in deliberately over-the-top cartoon-like manner. In one episode he is put in a huge pot and boiled, in another he is pummelled by baseballs. Taro Sado is probably the only animated character who would like a 16 ton weight dropped on him. Then there is the issue of parody and referencing. If you watch other anime you will see a lot of other series mentioned. There are references to The Rose of Versailles (No. 18) and Martian Successor Nadesico (No. 23) amongst others.
Most of MM! is slapstick and sauciness, but it can be clever and surprisingly serious at times. There only major problem is that no-one will ever know the true ending. Author Akinari Matsuno sadly died in 2011, so the series will forever be unfinished.
MM! is only available on Region 1, released by Sentai Filmworks.